Advent is making Christmas happen

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The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday, Misa De Gallo VIII, 23 December 2023
Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24 <'[[[[>< + ><]]]]'> Luke 1:57-66
Photo by author, Church of St. John the Baptist (birthplace) also in Ein Kerem, other side of Church of Visitation, May 2019.

We Filipinos always thought prophets are “fortune-tellers” who predict the future because “prophecy” is wrongly translated as “hula”; thus, when somebody says something would happen and becomes fulfilled, it is often described as “prophetic” because “nahulaan niya”.

But a prophet is neither a fortune teller nor someone who sees the future: a prophet is first of all a spokesman of God.  The great prophets of Israel like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Elijah even Moses all spoke for God.  It was in their task of speaking for God that they seemed like seers when everything they have spoken happened – but not because they saw the future but more because they made God’s words happened.

Being a prophet or prophetic is making things happen not seeing what is going to happen. This is the meaning of our sharing in the prophetic ministry of Jesus as baptized Christians when in our speaking and standing for the truth of the Gospel, we make Jesus present in the world.

Hence, in that sense, advent is actually making Christmas happen! And that is why John the Baptist is considered a prophet because in preparing the way of the Lord, he already made Jesus present in his time that he was mistaken to be the Christ.

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son.  When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No.  He will be called John.”  So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.     He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed.  Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.  All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?”  For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.

Luke 1:57, 59-60, 62-64, 66

Photo by author, apse of Church of St. John the Baptist also in Ein Kerem, other side of Church of Visitation, May 2019.

In our first reading, we have heard the prophet Malachi declaring the coming of the great prophet Elijah, later understood in the time of Jesus as a reference to John the Baptist, with all the functions of a precursor of the Christ.

Malachi is the last of the prophets in the Old Testament who showed us the transition into the New Testament through John the Baptist that Luke beautifully employed in presenting Zechariah and Elizabeth as links from the Old Testament like the patriarch Abraham and Sarah as well as Elkanah and Hannah, parents of another great prophet, Samuel.

Recall the annunciation of John’s birth that was reminiscent of the annunciation of the birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah while the Temple setting was very similar to the annunciation of Samuel’s birth to Elkanah and Hannah who then prayed in the Lord’s tent who was mistaken for a drunk by the chief priest of that time, Eli.

That is the artistry of Luke who portrayed to us this Old Testament links of John the Baptist so that in some Eastern churches until now you find above their entrance doors murals of the Baptist followed by the Blessed Virgin Mary at the middle and then Jesus to show how St. John marked the end of the Old Testament leading to the New Testament that started with Mama Mary when she accepted Jesus in her womb. It is the reason Jesus himself acknowledged John the Baptist as the greatest person ever born by a woman.

Photo by author, altar of Church of St. John the Baptist in Ein Kerem, shortly before its closure for restoration, May 2019.

We today are prophets too when we link the past with the present by continuing the work of Jesus Christ, making him present in this world. We are all bridges, linking and linked with one another in Christ.

Furthermore, the naming of John in itself was very prophetic because his parents made it happened to be fulfilled as God planned it wherein Elizabeth insisted to her neighbors “John” would be his name while Zechariah who was mute at that time affirmed his wife by writing “John is his name.”

That is our mission in this world – to be a prophet who makes things happen by fulfilling God’s plans for us. As prophets, we must be open always to God’s work among us, to always listen to his words in people and events so that we make his words realized. When we become prophetic, we shall hear people say what Luke noted at the end of our gospel today, All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?”  For surely the hand of the Lord was with him (Lk.1:66).


As we move closer to Christmas Day, the birth of John the Baptist reminds us of our prophetic role in this world of making that future a present reality by fulfilling God’s words and holy will in us.

If we would just persevere in our prayer life, of immersing ourselves in prayer, the more we become sensitive not only of God’s presence but also of everyone like this very short story I recently found on my friend’s wall in Facebook shared by a certain Therese Williams Hudson last December 15, 2023. She wrote….

"I heard my mother ask the neighbors for salt. 
But we had salt at home. 
I asked her why she asked the neighbors for salt. 
And she replied: "Because our neighbors don't have much money 
and they often ask us for something. From time to time 
I also ask them for something small and economical, 
so that they feel that we need them too. 
That way, they will feel more comfortable 
and it will be easier to keep asking us for everything they need.

And that's what I learned from my mother."
Photo by author, Fatima Avenue, Valenzuela City, 08 December 2023.

Lovely, is it not? The author added at the end of her story these words: “Let’s build empathetic, humble, supportive children​”​. Let’s join her but not just to have emphatic, humble, supportive children but most of all, prophetic ones, those with heightened sensitivity of God and of others made possible only by a deep prayer life where we can all be a “JOHN”, a graciousness of God who makes his divine plans realized. Amen.

Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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